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Fri Apr 13, 2012, 01:30 PM

What Republicans Once Were

What the hell happened?


What Republicans Once Were
Posted by Hendrik Hertzberg

A long time ago, before the Grand Old Party got old, the Grand Old Party was grand.

Here are excerpts from a speech by the grandest Republican orator of his time, delivered during the 1876 campaign to an audience of Union Army veterans and their families in Indianapolis, Indiana:

I am a Republican. I will tell you why: This is the only free government in the world. The Republican Party made it so. The Republican Party took the chains from four million people. The Republican Party, with the wand of progress, touched the auction-block and it became a schoolhouse. The Republican Party put down the rebellion, saved the nation, kept the old banner afloat in the air, and declared that slavery of every kind should be extirpated from the face of the continent.

I am a Republican because it is the only free party that ever existed. It is a party that has a platform as broad as humanity, a platform as broad as the human race, a party that says you shall have all the fruit of the labor of your hands, a party that says you may think for yourself; a party that says no chains for the hands, no fetters for the soul.

I am a Republican because the Republican Party says this country is a nation, and not a confederacy.

I am for the Republican Party because it says the government has as much right, as much power, to protect its citizens at home as abroad.

I am a Republican because that party allows me to be free—allows me to do my own thinking in my own way. I am a Republican because it is a party grand enough and splendid enough and sublime enough to invite every human being in favor of liberty and progress to fight shoulder to shoulder for the advancement of mankind. It invites the Methodist; it invites the Catholic; it invites the Presbyterian and every kind of sectarian; it invites the freethinker; it invites the infidel, provided he is in favor of giving to every other human being every chance and every right that he claims for himself.

I am a Republican, I tell you. There is room in the Republican air for every wing; there is room on the Republican sea for every sail. Republicanism says to every man: “Let your soul be like an eagle; fly out in the great dome of thought, and question the stars for yourself.”

That, folks, was the great Robert Ingersoll, nineteenth-century America’s most popular and acclaimed public speaker, whose fervent fans ranged from Mark Twain and Walt Whitman to Andrew Carnegie, Thomas A. Edison, and Ulysses S. Grant. The fact that Ingersoll was also the nation’s most prominent atheist—as vociferous as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, or Christopher Hitchens, as famous as Billy Graham or Bruce Springsteen—did not prevent him from being a sought-after speaker at Republican campaign events. (At the 1876 G.O.P. Convention he gave a sensational nominating speech for James G. Blaine, whom he memorably dubbed “the Plumed Knight”; though Blaine lost to Rutherford B. Hayes on the seventh ballot that year, he won the G.O.P. nomination eight years later.)

For a taste of Ingersoll’s views on religion, treat yourself to this.

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/hendrikhertzberg/2012/04/what-republicans-once-were.html#ixzz1rwV0RSjg

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babylonsister Apr 2012 OP
intaglio Apr 2012 #1
supernova Apr 2012 #2

Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 03:14 PM

1. Here't the link to the Open Library book

That New Yorker has identified as "Ingersoll’s views on religion"

It is actually "Col. Ingersoll's reply to his critics" and is well worth bookmarking

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 04:07 PM

2. "extirpated"

Today's Republicans can't even spell it, let alone use it in a sentence correctly.

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